Colour-in mini Christmas zine from CS4FN

Merry Christmas from CS4FN!

Here’s a free one-page A4 printable Computing-and-Christmas-themed mini-zine (PDF) for kids which can be coloured in and some puzzles completed. I made it in Inkscape which is free and open source (though some of the puzzles are taken from our other pages and pasted in). There’s also a US letter size version which I hope works (I don’t have a US printer to check though!).

It can be used in a classroom, by community groups or by parents as a placemat mealtime distraction, or for any reason you like. All that’s needed is a printer and some colouring pencils, a pair of scissors is useful but not essential. If using colouring pens be careful these won’t bleed through your paper and onto your lovely table or desk!

NOTE: For younger children filling out the kriss-kross puzzle do please point out to them to take care with the 10 letter word polar bear. You might think it has 9 letters but, to a computer, that space in the middle counts as a character and needs to be included 🙂 POLAR_BEAR not POLARBEAR_

Once coloured in you can also follow the folding instructions (see video in 2. The Instructions) and turn it into a miniature booklet (see photo below). Or you can print and fold and give to someone else to colour in.

For classroom fun / learning the puzzles can be used to teach about various computing concepts (see 3. Optional classroom extras).

You are welcome to print out and give away (but not sell) as many paper copies as you like. Please share this link with your friends and colleagues: https://bit.ly/CS4FNminiZineChristmas. The QR code on the puzzle itself (or the link below it) will also bring people to this page.

1. The file
2. The instructions
3. Optional classroom extras
4. No printer?
5. Troubleshooting

1. The file

Short link for this page is https://bit.ly/CS4FNminiZineChristmas

📥 Download the A4 PDF for UK printers (printing recommendations below).
📥 Download the US letter PDF for US printers (I have not tested this as don’t have a US printer!)

A4 printable sheet for classrooms or at home, with computing themed puzzles and Christmas-themed things to colour in.
A4 printable sheet for classrooms or at home, with computing themed puzzles & Christmasy things to colour in.
Photographs showing the CS4FN Christmas mini-zine – not yet coloured in.
An example, coloured in with pencils

2. The instructions (printing and folding)

The colouring-in printable Christmas and Computing sheet / zine is designed to be printed on A series paper (A4, A3) and features a mix of things to colour in and some puzzles to solve.

2.1. To print on A4 paper

Set to print ‘actual size’ as margins are accounted for in the design. We recommend a test copy first to ensure it folds correctly before anyone colours it in though! The dashed line should measure ~14.8cm (half of the longer edge of an A4 sheet). See troubleshooting below.

2.2. To print on A3 paper

Set to a custom size of 141% (why?) to enlarge it to fit to A3. It may not print correctly if set to ‘fit’. The dashed line should measure ~21cm (half the longer edge of an A3 sheet or the full width of an A4 sheet). See troubleshooting below.

2.3. To print on US letter sized paper – currently untested!

I’ve resized the sheet to fit on a US letter template but lacking a suitable printer or paper I’m unable to test and troubleshoot. If you find this file works OK and folds correctly please let me know (plus any suggestions on how to ensure the correct settings are picked).

2.4. How to fold

Once printed and coloured in you can follow the folding instructions to convert it into a small booklet (A7-sized if printed on A4, A6 if printed on A3).

3. Optional classroom extras

The colour-in sheet / zine uses some puzzles from our colour-in pixel puzzles and write-in kriss-kross puzzles collections. They’re fun to do but can also be used to explain some computing science concepts.

3.1 Pixel Puzzles

Learn about how images are represented in a computer and practice numbers while enjoying colouring. Also for younger children practice and explore: numeracy, counting, colours and symmetry

Pixel puzzles turn the ways images are represented as a series of numbers representing pixels into puzzles. They come in various forms from a simple variant of colour-by-numbers to more complex puzzles based on compression where images are represented by fewer numbers so take up less storage – but can you get them back! Each representation needs its own algorithm to follow to get the image back.

More information about the computational thinking and teaching options behind pixel puzzle pictures for teachers and parents – including lots more puzzles to do.

3.2 Kriss-Kross Puzzles

Kriss-kross puzzles combine a love of words with a love of logic and pattern-matching. Given a list of words of different lengths, you must fit them all in to the grid. While there are several 5-letter words that could (theoretically) fit into any of the 5-letter spaces on the puzzle, they will be constrained by the order of their letters and how well they fit in with other words. For example there is only one space on the puzzle where the 6-letter word sleigh and the 9-letter word Christmas can go, which will constrain where the other words can go. Note that polar bear might look like a 9-letter word but computers treat a space as a character so the space ‘counts’ as one letter and a space needs to be left blank. POLAR_BEAR not POLARBEAR_.

Also for younger children practice and explore: numeracy, counting, writing letters, phonics and spelling

More information for teachers and parents – including lots more puzzles to do.

3.3 Word search

You can use any Word Search to teach about search algorithms, linear search, algorithmic thinking and computational thinking. The one in the sheet above is fairly simple and probably won’t be too taxing in terms of strategies but we have some larger ones here: more information for teachers and parents.

3.4. More Christmas- and Computing-themed puzzles

https://teachinglondoncomputing.org/christmas-computing/ncomputing.org/christmas-computing/

4. No printer?

Other than friends, family or colleagues, local printers can print the PDF for you and ensure it’s sized correctly for folding. For example your nearest Ryman can print a single sheet (at time of writing it’s about 30p per page + set up fee of £2.50).

5. Troubleshooting

The layout is designed with a 5mm gap around the edges to ensure the content is within most printable areas (printers vary!). You can adjust the size of what will appear on the paper from the PDF print dialog but I found, on my printer, that ‘Actual Size’ produced something that folded correctly, with everything lining up nicely. Here is a PNG image version of the original zine file which can be opened and printed directly, or applied onto (e.g.) a PowerPoint presentation set to A4 with the image positioned and resized to cover the whole sheet.

It’s not designed for A3 but should scale up reasonably well (I tested it on my work computer which prints A3 and it folded correctly). The PNG image might be a bit blurred if used at A3 though.


This blog is funded through EPSRC grant EP/W033615/1.